The Impact and Evolution of Technology through the Generations

In a dynamic conversation with Rick Chromey, the popular author, international speaker, cultural historian, professor, and pastor delves into deeply engaging subjects on the impact and evolution of technology throughout the generations.

## The Generational Psyche Shaped by Technology

According to Chromey, technology that emerges during our formative years (ages 10-25) plays a crucial role in shaping our generational psyche. This informs us who we are and influences how we communicate, marking a distinct generational difference.

Drawing on the major technology leaps witnessed since 1900, he outlines how each significant development has brought about a generation that perceives and interacts with the world differently. Anecdotes from the cable television and video game generations are prime examples of how the interaction with technology during their coming-of-age years has influenced their outlook later in life.

## Re-describing Generational Labels: Moving past the A-B-Cs

Chromey contends that popular generational labels often fall short of capturing a generation’s essence. For instance, referring to Generation Z as ‘the iTech generation’ further elaborates on their formative technologies – the iPod, iPad, and iPhone, and their inherent similarity to social media platforms.

However, major ‘tipping’ technologies emerge every few decades – those that redefine and reshape the generations that they coincide with. Orienting ourselves with these generational frames can bridge communication gaps and foster better understanding across age divides.

## The Future in a Holographic, AI and Robotic World

As we rapidly advance into a world marked by holographic technology, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotics, we can expect a significant shift in societal structures, how we work, and even warfare.

While there’s an inherent fear associated with the advent of such transformative technologies, Chromey emphasizes that this fear is rooted more in the ‘newness’ of technology rather than the technology itself. As we acclimate to these new technologies and identify their utilitarian use, apprehension will naturally dissipate.

The author argues that embracing this technological evolution can repeat history, like the shift from horse carriages to automobiles or written letters to telephones.

## The Ethical Dimension of Technological Progress

The discussion also touches on the ethical dimensions of advancing technology and elaborates on the ‘because we can, should we?’ conversation. Citing examples from the Industrial Revolution and the rapid expansion of the Internet age, he makes a case for constructive adoption and normalization of new technologies while threading the path of responsible and ethical use.

## Final Thoughts

Rick Chromey’s insights into the relationship between technology and how we understand ourselves and each other as generations offer an eye-opening look into the past, present, and future of technological progress. His book, “GenTech: An American Story of Technology, Change and Who We Really Are,” is a highly recommended read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of the nuanced interplay between technology and generational identities.

Stay tuned for more engaging conversations and thought-provoking insights from Rick Chromey as we continue to navigate our rapidly evolving technological landscape.

Rick Chromey

[00:00:00] Rick Chromey: It's interesting, you know, the, how I named the, the current generation. When I was writing the book, I had no name. I, you know, I, I got up to the year, you know, I knew 2000 to 2020, I had them named the iTechs for a long time. And was commonly talking about the iTech generation. But then my theory, if it was holding true, and I was writing this in 2018, 2019, I, I thought if this, my theory's right,

[00:00:24] I've got to put a name on this new generation, this, this generation being born since 2010. And I started thinking, Oh my goodness, what, what am I going to name it? And, you know, I knew robots were part of the picture. And I was doing some research on that one day and I was on YouTube. I was on YouTube and it was, um, they were showing commercials, uh, of robot commercials.

[00:00:47] And one of the robot commercials, I can't remember the name of the company now, was, um, some sort of finance company, it was during the Superbowl of 2019. It was the number one commercial in the 2019 Superbowl. And it was about a guy that, a man that's asleep and this little robochild, it's, her name's Robochild, comes up and wakey, wakey, Papa, wakey, wakey.

[00:01:11] And he rolls over and says, you know, Oh my goodness, what do you want? And she's, she says she wants something. And, and he says, The world's not ready for you, Robochild. And that's when it hit me, Robochild.

[00:01:27] Ed Watters: To overcome, you must educate. Educate not only yourself, but educate anyone seeking to learn. We are all Dead America, we can all learn something. To learn, we must challenge what we already understand. The way we do that is through conversation. Sometimes we have conversations with others, however, some of the best conversations happen with ourself. Reach out and challenge yourself; let's dive in and learn something right now.

[00:02:21] Today we're with Dr. Rick Chromey. He is a best selling author, an international speaker, cultural historian, professor, and a pastor. His book, GenTech, an American story of technology, change and who we really are. Rick, could you please introduce yourself and let people know just a little more about you, please?

[00:02:45] Rick Chromey: Well, thank you, Ed. And I appreciate the opportunity to be with you here in Cyberworld as we explore a number of interesting and curious subjects for the next hour or so. Uh, yeah, my name's Rick. I live in Boise, Idaho, actually in a little, uh, suburb outside of Boise called Star. And I live with my wonderful, beautiful wife, uh, Linda. And we have an ornery, fat

[00:03:08] cat named Belle and a beautiful little King Charles Cavalier dog named Charlie. Um, but, uh, got grandkids and, uh, kids today, you know, I got two kids. Uh, we've actually got four kids between the two of us and we're just living the life here in Idaho. And, uh, you, you pretty much nailed all what I do. I, I'm a historian and I do some, uh, I still teach at some schools out there and, and do some other work, but, uh, also a little pastoral work as well. But my primary thing is writing and speaking.

[00:03:39] Ed Watters: Well, when you dig into Rick and what he really does, it's fascinating. This, excuse me, this technology that we all live in and we're defined by, you kind of, I've always been frustrated about this generation naming. You

[00:04:00] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:04:00] Ed Watters: know, I've always felt like, well, I don't fit there, I don't fit there. What, what do I get called? So, you know, it helps me identify a little bit when I got into researching you. Well, yeah, they do overlap. So now I all of a sudden feel kind of relieved. Oh, well, I'm not alone then. And I've always kept that to myself, you know, but it's always been confusing. What got you into writing this book, Rick?

[00:04:33] Rick Chromey: Well, first of all, it's about thirty years in the making. Uh, and it's, um, it's a, it's a topic that's been fascinating to me since, uh, probably the early 1980s. Uh, I was, uh, at that time I was working as a youth pastor and, uh, doing a lot of different workshops. I did some other training type of work at that point where I was doing some teaching back in my younger years. And because of my youth, uh, ministry expertise and my expertise, I guess you will, at the time with youth culture, a lot of it was starting to bubble around this new generation of kids, as we were calling them back then, Gen Y. We didn't really have a name for them, we just recognized there were a different type of kids. They eventually became known as the Millennial Generation. And in the 1990s I spent a lot of time, uh, traveling all over the country, really even around the world, uh, helping people understand this new generation. You know, what made them tick and understanding the different, uh, aspects, characteristics, the, the good, the bad, the ugly, everything about it.

[00:05:33] And a long story short was, um, uh, around the early 2000s, I started to recognize that there were some things that were kind of missing. Uh, first of all, I, like you, I, I didn't like the generational names that were being given. Um, And in 1995, you know, we were just getting started talking about the Millennials when someone named the new generation Gen Z. And I was going, my head started spinning like the exorcist child there, you know, because it's like, what, what are we doing here? You know, this alphabet naming? Uh, the thing is, you know, we've

[00:06:06] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:06:06] Rick Chromey: got Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z. You know, what are we doing? This isn't the way to name generations. And around the same time in the mid 2000s, I started a doctoral degree where I spent literally three years of my life immersed in studying the future, understanding emerging culture, and in particular, developing my own theory that there are certain technologies that have the capacity to change who we are. I mean, they shift us into new ways of communicating, primarily communicating, but also that means learning, that means how we worship, that means how we, um, how we work, all those things. And when I started to look at these megatechs, I noticed that about every 500 years, you have this big shift.

[00:06:54] Uh, you know, the previous one was the, the, what I call the modern shift that brought us out of the dark ages, that brought us into renaissance, and enlightenment, and, and reformation, and eventually the scientific age, the information age. And that was the technologies of the Gutenberg press, uh, the, uh, the telescopes, the microscope and the telescope, the scopes. Uh, and as well as the, uh, mechanized clock.

[00:07:20] Those technologies really changed how we communicated as a culture. Uh, we became a print culture, we became a scientific culture. We became a culture of, of what I call the ologies, you know, the, the biology, geology, psychology, all those ology types of disciplines. Basically what we did was, we put, we put everything in a box.

[00:07:44] You know, we put the world, geos is the Greek word for earth, we put the earth in a box and said, This is how the earth works. Or we put bios, which is the Greek word for life, we put that in a box and we called it biology. You know, this is how biology works. And then we took those boxes, we did the same thing with God,

[00:08:03] theos is the Greek word for God and so theology came out of that. So we even put God in a box. And in the process of doing that, through 500 years of conversation and communication, and teaching, and all that, we got to the point where we just had everything, everything was down, mechanized. It was very mechanized culture.

[00:08:21] And then along comes television, blows it up. Then along comes the internet, blows it up. Then along comes cellular phone or mobile technology, and blows it up. Those technologies in particular flattened our culture to quote Malcolm. Um, I got Malcolm Gladwell something, uh, Friedman, Thomas Friedman wrote a book called, The World is Flat.

[00:08:44] It just flattened our whole world and that's because those technologies had the capacity to break out of the boxes. In fact, they operate, they really propose a world without boxes. You know, there is no box anymore. Uh, even, even the universe itself, we don't call it the universe. A lot of people call it the multiverse.

[00:09:03] It's a totally different world. We have broken out of this, this idea of one single thing into a variety, a colorful kaleidoscope of, of information and understanding and how we communicate. So long story short, um, I applied that to generations. It dawned on me one day that, you know, I've been looking at this from the big cultural shift. What if it works within generational shifts as well? And I went back as far as 1900 in the book, I, I'd start in 1900 because more technological change has occurred since 1900 than the

[00:09:41] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:09:41] Rick Chromey: entire, you know, history of the world. And then I just applied it to these generations and I'll be more than happy to share more about what that looks like if you're interested. But that is, uh, that's kind of the big thing that started to happen. And I looked at generations as having technological shiftings going on within them. And [00:10:00] those technological shiftings then gave us a window to the world, to the, to how we, we are framed and how we're personified.

[00:10:09] Ed Watters: Yeah, that's, that's precisely how I see it. And, you know, each time one of those changes comes, that's opportunity.

[00:10:21] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:10:22] Ed Watters: And how we expand really matters at that particular point in time. What, what are we going to do with this new technology? And in our world today, I'm kind of concerned with that, you know, it's frightening. Understanding with the advent of the computer age and the internet, and we have this narcissistic type of tendencies about everybody and everything.

[00:10:53] How we go forward from this point on, it really matters. And to educate people about how these shifts occur, I think it's pretty, pretty, uh, needed. It's important. So how do we go forward from this point, understanding the technologies of the past without educating people of how we are right now?

[00:11:24] Rick Chromey: Yeah. Yeah. And I think you just hit upon a very important, uh, talking point in this conversation. We have been here before, Ed, this is

[00:11:34] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:11:35] Rick Chromey: nothing new.

[00:11:36] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:11:36] Rick Chromey: As I was doing research for the book, I talk about, you know, the different generations being impacted by the telephone, for example. The automobile, uh, the airplane, the motion picture generation. There's a, there's a generation called the radio generation and the vinyl record generation. And then, and of course, television and space. All these different generations lining up and they're not lined up, by the way, back to back to back, they're actually over the top of each other. There's, there's periods where they, they cover each other and that makes you part of two different technological generations.

[00:12:11] But with that said, what I found interesting in my research for the book was that the same fears that we have about holographic technology, or artificial intelligence technology, or, um, you know, robotic technology, those are the big ones today that are coming down the pike, uh, were the same feelings and the same reservations and the same fear.

[00:12:37] Uh, you actually had fear mongering that went on with the telephone. I mean, there were people back when the telephone came out, thought that there was demons that were speaking through those, those ear pieces. And there's no way that could happen. Same thing happened with radio. The idea to transmit a voice

[00:12:52] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:12:52] Rick Chromey: over the airways was considered by some, especially in the religious world, as being, you know, of the occult. And of course, it's interesting that it was the religious world that kind of got ahold of it and recognized all the ways that you could broadcast a message. It was, it was two things

[00:13:08] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:13:08] Rick Chromey: that broke radio open to the public. One was religion because the preachers got a hold of it and started preaching on the radio back in the 1920s. And the second one was sports. Baseball in particular blew open radio to the point where Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, This is the best way for me to communicate is to use radio. Hence the radio chats, which is very interesting because our last president, Donald Trump, used Twitter the same way that FDR used radio.

[00:13:39] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:13:40] Rick Chromey: Every president, Ronald Reagan used television the way FDR used radio. Every president has to find that, that way, every communicator finds that way. And it all comes out through these generational shiftings around these technologies. One last thing I will say to you on this as well, to understand my book, is that you have to understand the technology that's, that's tipping.

[00:14:02] There's, about every ten years there's a technology, new technologies that are tipping. And what I mean by that is a lot of technology never tips. You think about, um, uh, video cassettes, you know, VHS, but at the same time there was another type of, uh, of video tape called Betamax. Remember Betamax? Betamax

[00:14:24] Ed Watters: Yep.

[00:14:24] Rick Chromey: never, Betamax never tipped. It never tipped in the market. VHS became the predominant way to video record.

[00:14:32] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:14:32] Rick Chromey: Same thing happened with Blu- Ray. I know there are people out there that love Blu- Ray discs, but I gotta tell you, the DVD is what tipped. Blu- Ray never tipped, it never had a cultural tipping point. But about every ten years you have these big tips. It might've, it was space, it was cable television, it was the internet, it was, uh, you know, the, the iPod. I call them the i technologies, the iPod, the iPad, the iPhone, you know, those technologies. But what's interesting is if your generation, as, if you're coming of age, and you think of coming of age, between the ages of ten and twenty-five, the, the, the technology as you're coming of age,

[00:15:10] so I'm a, I'm 63, I was born in 1963, so the technologies that were coming of age during my coming of age years, between 1973 and 1985 were, uh, video gaming. There was video gaming and, and cable television. So I'm not Gen X. But if you look at the technologies that really geared my life, I play life like a video game.

[00:15:37] You know, Gen X has been constantly playing life like a video game. We look at it like that. I mean, the great recession was just a great reset for us, a chance to get an extra life in this game that we're playing. Uh, and, and we've always looked at our life as going, you know, kind of like the challenger explosion, you know, in 1986, you know, we're going up,

[00:15:55] going up, going up and then all of a sudden something big is going to happen. We've always had that feeling in our generation, that Gen X was going to have to take the brunt of something. And now we are. There has been no generation, no, no American generation that's been hit harder. Because, uh, you know, everybody talks about the boomers and the money that the boomers had and the money lost by the boomers.

[00:16:15] Yeah. Okay. And our millennials who have all this student debt, yeah, I got it. But nobody's had more economic hardship, starting in 1987. Remember that? 1987, there was a big stock market crash then. And it plummeted and it really, it would cost a lot of us our jobs back there. That was when we were just coming of age, getting into the job market.

[00:16:35] So all these things contribute, uh, the great recession, all these things contribute to who we are. So we're not Gen X so much, we're just, we're cable television, you know, we, we like options. We liked, we like, uh, having opportunities. And we like to, we're not an institution, institutions were ABC, NBC, CBS. We're ESPN, The Weather Channel, we're, we're HBO,

[00:17:00] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:17:00] Rick Chromey: see? And when you look at it that way, you start to understand that this stuff makes sense.

[00:17:07] Ed Watters: Yeah. Watching, watching those shifts and those tips, it's interesting. I, you know, every time there is one of those cultural tips that you talked about, there's always something that drives it. And it's usually the market financial and the acceptance of the technology. So what, it's interesting what we're seeing right now, Rick, with the, the next coming of age with this internet generation. I see it through Elon Musk, and, uh, the, Donald Trump, and the, what do you call them? Yay, with, uh, purchasing all of these platforms.

[00:18:01] Rick Chromey: Right.

[00:18:02] Ed Watters: This, you can tell it's, it's going to be one of those tipping points in our generational outcomes. Elon Musk is stating right now that he is buying Twitter because he wants to put this X, uh, app together, which is going to be the mega app of apps. What do you think about this shift that we're witnessing right now? Because obviously it's one of those tipping points in technology.

[00:18:38] Rick Chromey: Yeah. And you're speaking to the social media platforms, which, uh, they're always going to be evolving. I mean, when you think about all the different platforms that have come and gone, um, I was trying to think of some of the early, early social media. I can't think of the one that was pre Facebook, it's,

[00:18:55] Ed Watters: Myspace.

[00:18:57] Rick Chromey: Myspace, there you go. I remember

[00:18:58] Ed Watters: Oh, Yeah.

[00:18:59] Rick Chromey: when it was Myspace, everybody's talking Myspace. And then Facebook came out and I was one of the first people on Facebook because I was a college

[00:19:06] Ed Watters: Oh, wow.

[00:19:06] Rick Chromey: Professor. And you could not get on Facebook once they, once they

[00:19:11] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:19:11] Rick Chromey: got it outside the local school where, where, uh, um, where he went to, Zuckerberg went to. And they just put it on college campuses, you had to be in a college. You had to have a college ID or a college email address in order to get into Facebook. It was, and that's when I was

[00:19:29] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:19:29] Rick Chromey: into it, I think it was 2005, 2006, was when I finally got into it. Because my students were there and I wanted to know more about my students. I wanted to communicate with my students and I thought it was an interesting social platform. But you know, Facebook right now is on the verge of having some serious issues. It's primarily boomer driven, uh, boomer and X driven. The millennials have abandoned it like crazy, Gen Z just ignores it all together. So, you know, as a platform, there's a lot of concern that it wont even be here in ten [00:20:00] years. It very easy,

[00:20:01] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:20:01] Rick Chromey: it could be the MySpace. But, uh, the kids these days are migrating, of course, to things like Snapchat and TikTok. You know, those are their

[00:20:10] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:20:10] Rick Chromey: places. Instagram has a little bit of a revival right now. Uh, it's kind of had some up and down moments, but it's seeing some good. But here, those are, social media is just one part. Those, the generation born between 2000 and 2020, that 20 year period I call the iTech generation. Uh, they're commonly called Gen Z, but Gen Z means nothing. Uh, in fact, if anything, I, it's, it's one of the most lazy of, laziest of all the tags that we put on these generations is Gen Z. The iTech generation is, speaks to the fact that these kids born in the last, between 2000 and 2020

[00:20:51] grew up on the i technologies. You know, thinking of iPhone, and iPad, and iWatch, and, and iPod, and, and iTunes, you know, the streaming technologies. And then you fold in that social media and you can see how they're a much different generation. They communicate completely different than those of us who, who were born, you know, in the

[00:21:13] 1960s, and 70s, and 80s, even 90s, they communicate differently. Uh, but the, the thing is, what we're missing is, there's a new generation that's being born since 2010. And the technology right now that's tipping, I call them hair technologies, not because I'm bald, but because it's an acronym that helps me to remember, uh, the three, these three technologies.

[00:21:35] And this is my, for, for you and your listeners, this is that piece that, I just want you to start looking for it because it is everywhere when you start looking for it. The hair technologies of the 2020s and really by 2030, our world is going to be completely transformed again. You think we saw a lot of technological change in the last 120 years, well, buckle up buttercup because it's coming in a big way right now.

[00:22:00] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:22:00] Rick Chromey: Here's the thing, H, H A I R, just think hair is an acronym for the three technologies. Holographic technology, AI, artificial intelligence, and then the R is robotics. And I talk about that in the last chapter of my book, because I take you all the way out to the year 2055, when that's the last

[00:22:20] Ed Watters: Oh, cool.

[00:22:20] Rick Chromey: coming of age years. You know, the coming of age years is between the ages of ten and twenty-five. So guess what's happening right now? That Robo generation, as I call them, the Robo generation born since 2010 are now coming of age. They're now children, ten year old, eleven year old, twelve year old kids. But they're, they're coming of age is going to come, stretch out to 2055. And at that point, you know, it's these hair

[00:22:45] Ed Watters: Wow.

[00:22:45] Rick Chromey: technologies, can you imagine what the world's going to look like in a holographic, artificially intelligent robotic world? Well, by 2030, we're going to get a good picture. By 2050, it's going to be so radically different. It'll be as different as you and I right now thinking about horse and buggy. It'll be as different

[00:23:05] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:23:05] Rick Chromey: as you and I thinking about using a telegraph in order to communicate. It's going to be that radical of a shift. We can't imagine, when's the last time you ever used a telegraph to communicate a message?

[00:23:17] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:23:18] Rick Chromey: We, we never, we never had that in our frame. The kids today are growing up in such a fast digital cyber culture that it is, it is changing them and they're, they're, they're just, it's much more different for them than for us.

[00:23:35] Ed Watters: Yeah. You know, it's exciting and fearful all at the same time to watch the, the advancement of new technologies and how, you're a pastor, you know, uh, I, I understand that there's, there's things in the book of Revelation that tells us to watch for some of this sort of stuff and it drives fear. But also there is that, you know, you talked about it.

[00:24:06] Look at like the, uh, Inquisition, Spanish Inquisition and the witch trials. All of this is because of those things you talked about earlier. Because it was taboo, it was something new, novel to the whole system. So it's really important to educate ourselves about the technologies that are immersing in our world and stay on top of them so we understand the biased nature of everything involved in that. So how do we understand our world better through the history and the generations that came before us?

[00:24:56] Rick Chromey: Well, first of all, I would say buy the book, don't wait for the movie. Uh,

[00:25:00] Ed Watters: Yes, that's right.

[00:25:01] Rick Chromey: the book, the book,

[00:25:03] Ed Watters: So a movie's coming.

[00:25:05] Rick Chromey: That'd be nice. I actually think it'd make a great television show, you know, GenTech,

[00:25:09] Ed Watters: I think it would.

[00:25:10] Rick Chromey: a reality

[00:25:11] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:25:11] Rick Chromey: show where I just bounced around and, and told you stories about, uh, the different technology and how to impact the different generations. Uh, uh, I think

[00:25:19] Ed Watters: A mini series.

[00:25:19] Rick Chromey: there'd be a lot of interest in that. Yeah. Kind of a

[00:25:21] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:25:21] Rick Chromey: reality, you know, a reality series. You know, uh,

[00:25:23] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:25:24] Rick Chromey: maybe along the lines of, uh, of, uh, pickers, American Pickers where, you know, you just see the technology. But, you know, I, to be honest, if you're very, if you're interested in this type of conversation, my book is, is a starting spot because I reframed the whole thing.

[00:25:39] I, the first three chapters were about blowing up the idea that you're a Boomer, or you're an Xer, or you're a Millennial. And I talk about where all those tags come from and why they're lousy as far as a name or a moniker. And then I build the slow, firm foundation that it is the technology that we experience between the ages of ten and twenty-five that really frames our generational psyche.

[00:26:04] It tells us, it informs us as far as who we are and how we communicate. And that's then how we can better understand generations. We can better under, you know, communicate between generations is by understanding that. Um, with that said, though, I think it's interesting that a lot of, um, a lot of these conversations have this fear factor. You mentioned the book of Revelation

[00:26:27] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:26:27] Rick Chromey: and, yeah, obviously I'm not going to argue someone's interpretation of that particular book. But

[00:26:33] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:26:33] Rick Chromey: I've never, I don't see any technology in the book of Revelation, I'm sorry. I think it's more imagination about certain passages that suggest a technology and you're welcome to do that. You know, anybody that says, Well, what about this verse or that verse? I'm like, Hey, you're welcome to do it. Uh, I've been a student of book of Revelation for forty years and I can tell you that there are all sorts of ways to look at those, those verses. But, uh, for me personally, I, I just don't see technology in that book.

[00:27:00] Uh, it's just not, it's not part of the story there of what's trying to be communicated. So, but the fear factor then becomes a major issue. It's interesting, you know, how I named the current generation. When I was writing the book, I had no name. I, you know, I, I got up to the year, you know, I knew 2000 to 2020, I had them named the iTechs for a long time and was calmly talking about the iTech generation. But then my theory, if it was holding true, and I was writing this in 2018, 2019, I thought if my theory is right, I've got to put a name on this new generation, this, this generation being born since 2010. And I started thinking, Oh my goodness, what, what am I going to name it?

[00:27:42] And, you know, I knew robots were part of the picture. And I was doing some research on that one day and I was on YouTube. I was on YouTube and it was, um, they were showing commercials, uh, of robot commercials. And one of the robot commercials, I can't remember the name of the company now, was um, some sort of finance company, it was during the Super Bowl of 2019.

[00:28:04] It was the number one commercial in the 2019 Super Bowl. And it was about a guy, a man that's asleep, and this little robo child, her name's Robochild, comes up and, Wakey, wakey papa, wakey, wakey. And he rolls over and says, you know, Oh my goodness, what do you want? And she's, she says she wants something.

[00:28:25] And, and he says, The world's not ready for you, Robochild. And that's when it hit me, Robochild, you know? Because as I started to look around, I was already seeing robots starting to bubble, artificial intelligence starting to bubble. This is 2019, we're nine years into their generation. What's going to pop ten years in is going to be technologies. And the three technologies that I was able to identify that were popping, holographic, artificial intelligence, and robotics. And every one of them,

[00:28:55] and why I tell that story is this, is because when they showed that commercial, and then the next day, you know, everybody talks about all the Superbowl commercials, the number one commercial getting the most press, the most talked about, was Robochild. And it was mostly negative. It was a lot of, it was negative

[00:29:14] Ed Watters: Wow.

[00:29:14] Rick Chromey: because they saw it as creepy. It's creepy to have a robot child. It's, that's, that's weird, that's strange, that's odd. And I thought that's exactly the way everyone of these technologies are, they make us feel. These technologies feel creepy, they feel strange, they feel different until we become acclimated to them. Until we find their utilitarian use. They make

[00:29:37] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:29:37] Rick Chromey: sense to us, they become a part

[00:29:38] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:29:39] Rick Chromey: of our life. We don't, I mean, is there anything more creepy than this? A smartphone?

[00:29:44] Ed Watters: Oh yeah.

[00:29:44] Rick Chromey: A smartphone is,

[00:29:44] Ed Watters: I remember it's like,

[00:29:46] Rick Chromey: this is,

[00:29:48] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:29:48] Rick Chromey: this is really one of the more creepy types of technologies when you think about it or, or smart speakers. I mean, this morning I was in my, my bathroom getting ready for work and, and, uh, my [00:30:00] wife asked the speaker a question. And I was going, Why do we do that? I mean, it just, and it gave an answer. It was like, that's,

[00:30:08] Ed Watters: Crazy.

[00:30:09] Rick Chromey: Yeah. We live in that type of a world now where

[00:30:11] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:30:12] Rick Chromey: things start to become normalized. And when they become normal, those tipping points happen for us. That's when we go, Ahh, I'm getting it. I'm getting it. You know, these, these technologies frame who we are. So the robot children,

[00:30:25] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:30:25] Rick Chromey: the Robochildren will be defined by holograms and artificial intelligence and robotics.

[00:30:32] Ed Watters: Yeah, so, you know, that, that, I want to segue with that a little bit

[00:30:38] Rick Chromey: Okay.

[00:30:38] Ed Watters: on to what, what happens to our, I don't know? What, what happens to our world? How do we, how do we transition with the technology? Is what I'm saying here. Because right now, tangible jobs are really a must for our psyche and our understanding. But yet with the advancement of this robo world and holographic technology, all of these, uh, sensor technologies that can sense things in a, before I can even think about it. How, how is the transition going to occur from here on out into that world? It's an interesting thing because it's going to help us in so many ways.

[00:31:30] And if we can curb the fear factor that we've been talking about and allow these tech, because the marketplace always dictates if that technology goes forward or not. So that kind of curbs that fear factor that we all have in the early stages of these technologies.

[00:31:53] Rick Chromey: Unless, unless we get stuck. I mean, you think about, think about technology, no culture has gotten more stuck with technology than the Amish. Think about the Amish here in North America. I mean, they're stuck in a totally different world. No cars, no electricity. I mean, that, that's a pre 19th or 20th century type of world they live in and they survive.

[00:32:17] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:32:17] Rick Chromey: I mean, you could do that. You could, you could, you can survive that way if you want to do that. There are people right now that go off the grid to live. They literally have unplugged from the technology. They want to live off the grid, they want to live in a world without all the modern conveniences. You can do that if you want. So, you know, this idea of us moving forward, I think we have to, I always look at it from an ethical perspective

[00:32:43] first of all. Um, I got, I get a lot of my, um, a lot of my understandings from movies. And, you know, uh, you think about Jurassic park, you know, the idea of cloning a dinosaur. And one of the lines in there, uh, that was, was given was, Just because we can clone a dinosaur doesn't mean that we should, you know?

[00:33:03] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:33:03] Rick Chromey: And that was a, I think that's a great line because when you think about robots, I mean, there are people that, the pornography industry has found robots to be a very fascinating way to create new, new, um, relationships, if you will. There are, there are, um, it is, um, there are people that are actually there, right now, I'm telling you, this is, this is not, this sounds creepy, it sounds strange, it sounds weird, but it's the, it's the truth in, I think it's in Japan. In fact, I'm almost a hundred

[00:33:32] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:33:32] Rick Chromey: percent sure it's in Japan. There is a man who is presently divorcing his robot. That's because he married his robot and now him and his robot aren't getting along and he's divorcing his robot. These are the ethical concerns that most of us go, it goes over our heads, we kind of go, What in the world? But our kids are going to have to grapple with this. Our robots,

[00:33:54] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:33:55] Rick Chromey: robots will no doubt be the fighting forces of the future. You think our wars will be fought with human people? With human, human beings in the future? No, no, they're going to be fought by robots, they're going to be fought by drones, they're going to be fought by, by artificially intelligent pieces of metal, uh, that will, um, that

[00:34:15] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:34:16] Rick Chromey: will decide the outcome of a war. Or it will be done through cyber, you know, types of,

[00:34:22] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:34:22] Rick Chromey: uh, attacks. Those will decide the wars of the future. But at the same time, robots, I think, can serve our communities too. Think about the workplace. Right now, a lot of the, lot of the businesses can't afford, uh, to hardly stay open because they don't have the staff. You know, the staff is not there. Well, what's going on, you know? Well, I got to tell you in ten years, that will not even be a question. All those places that have problems right now finding individuals, people to work, that's all going to be robots. Who's going to cook

[00:34:56] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:34:56] Rick Chromey: your meal in the future? It's going to be a robot. There's already a pizzeria called Zoom Pizzerias. They are

[00:35:03] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:35:03] Rick Chromey: primarily robotic pizza, it's put together by robots.

[00:35:07] Ed Watters: So in a way, in a way we're forcing this shift ourselves.

[00:35:13] Rick Chromey: I think COVID, I think

[00:35:14] Ed Watters: Interesting, yeah.

[00:35:15] Rick Chromey: COVID, COVID was not

[00:35:16] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:35:17] Rick Chromey: an interruption. Covid, a lot of people, I, and I, I think it's because we pray that it is, you know? I remember doing these types of conversations two years ago in the middle of COVID and, and talking about this and saying, I think most of us hope this is just an interruption. But I was telling people back then, this is not an interruption.

[00:35:36] This is a disruption. And the better you learn that it's a disruption to who we are and how we're going to operate cause when we come out of COVID, it's going to be like a whole new world. We're going to look at things a lot differently. We're going to respond to things differently and radically different. And when you think about, even right now, I mean, I didn't do Zoom interviews or podcasts before COVID, you know? I,

[00:36:02] Ed Watters: Right.

[00:36:02] Rick Chromey: my

[00:36:02] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:36:02] Rick Chromey: speaking career was in a much different venue. Uh, I didn't do training by Zoom, I didn't hold my life group by Zoom. I have a life group that meets every Thursday night and someone's home here in Idaho, uh, Boise.

[00:36:15] And, and, you know, I didn't do that, um, I didn't do Zoom. But during COVID, we had a Zoom group that met as well. You know, it changed how we operate, it changed how we communicate, it changed how we work. More people are working from home now than ever before, that trend is not going away. And businesses are learning,

[00:36:37] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:36:37] Rick Chromey: many of them have learned, Hey, we can actually operate leaner and more efficiently by having our workforce work from home. And, you know, my stepson, wonderful kid, he works out of his house. He doesn't have to leave his house. He literally gets up in his pajamas and works at the computer all day long.

[00:36:58] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:36:59] Rick Chromey: And you know, this idea that Gen Z is lazy and that Gen Z is, um, is, is the, the, the problem why we have all these, these job openings, well, Gen Z knows where the money's at. The money's not in a fifteen dollar job working at McDonald's, you know, flipping a burger. The money now is twenty and twenty-five dollar jobs working online in your pajamas. You know, working, working, who

[00:37:25] Ed Watters: Yes.

[00:37:25] Rick Chromey: wouldn't take that? I mean, who wouldn't do that?

[00:37:27] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:37:28] Rick Chromey: And Gen Z has been wired naturally to do cyber communication.

[00:37:33] They've been doing cyber communication from the day they were born. They were given iPads

[00:37:37] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:37:37] Rick Chromey: for Pete's sakes while they were in kindergarten. So these kids know this type of stuff already. Uh, why are we surprised?

[00:37:44] Ed Watters: Yes. Yeah, it's, it's odd. We've augmented our world significantly with technologies such as Zoom. And, uh, nobody picks up a phone anymore and makes a phone call hardly ever, you know, it's rare. You're texting, emailing, or Zooming.

[00:38:08] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:38:08] Ed Watters: Uh, it's odd how the world has shifted.

[00:38:10] Rick Chromey: I'll give you,

[00:38:10] Ed Watters: You know, I remember,

[00:38:11] Rick Chromey: I'll give you a story. Oh, go ahead finish,

[00:38:14] Ed Watters: Go ahead.

[00:38:14] Rick Chromey: I'm sorry.

[00:38:15] Ed Watters: No, finish.

[00:38:15] Rick Chromey: Let me give you, let me give you a story. I, I work as a, uh, Lewis and Clark historian for American Cruise Lines. So, uh, I'm on the, I'm on a ship, literally porting at docks, uh, all summer long. And we work the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, Astoria, Oregon, all the way up to Clarkston, Washington. Eight day trips we take on the river with, with guests. And,

[00:38:38] Ed Watters: I was raised in Clarkston.

[00:38:40] Rick Chromey: Well, there you go. Okay. So, you know the place.

[00:38:42] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:38:42] Rick Chromey: Well,

[00:38:42] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:38:42] Rick Chromey: what's interesting was, um, this last summer, uh, we'd often come in to port and we'd have to, you know, swap up. We'd take, all the passengers would get off and then a new group would get on. And it was what we call turnover day. And on turnover day, these kids, and these are, these are Gen Z kids. These are the young ones that were, were our deck hands. They were the ones turning the beds and changing the beds and doing all that stuff.

[00:39:05] And when they would get all their work done, and we, and then our job now is to get all the new passengers on, these kids then would get on their phones and start working their phones like crazy. And within thirty minutes, forty minutes, food started arriving to the ship. And even though the ship, uh, gave them food, we, we fed them food, they were, they were getting food from Taco Bell, and from Pizza Hut, and from Five Guys, whatever they could find. They were, they were ordering it up through, um, through, uh,

[00:39:37] Ed Watters: Dash.

[00:39:38] Rick Chromey: Dash. Yeah. Dash was, was good

[00:39:40] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:39:40] Rick Chromey: for them and Uber Eats was another one. Uh,

[00:39:43] Ed Watters: Uber Eats, yes.

[00:39:44] Rick Chromey: Yeah. You think about how, think about, there's another one, Uber, think about how Uber's changed

[00:39:48] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:39:49] Rick Chromey: transportation. You know, it's, it's totally flattened

[00:39:52] Ed Watters: Fascinating.

[00:39:52] Rick Chromey: it where anybody can drive. Anybody can be, you don't have, you're not, not a taxi, you don't have to have a special thing on your [00:40:00] hood. You're not part of a company. You yourself are your own company and you can make a living at it. I know people who do nothing but Uber. My Uber driver's, I asked him, how, are you making a living? And he said, I could make a, I live very good at this work, you know? I just thought,

[00:40:16] Ed Watters: Wow.

[00:40:16] Rick Chromey: World's different.

[00:40:18] Ed Watters: The world's different. It's,

[00:40:20] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:40:20] Ed Watters: it's odd. And, and, you know, another trend sneaking up there is, with, with all of that, that we just talked about, you've got the autonomous vehicles coming into it. And, and these, these kids, they, they don't care about driving. You know, you, you ride a Harley, you, you like the transportation that we have now. But this electric vehicle and all of that coming in where it's going to drive and you sit in the backseat and play your video game, do your business, or eat your meal,

[00:40:59] I'm, I'm watching this and it's kind of transpiring right in front of us where it's kind of getting normal for these people to think about that, do things like that. Where I'm thinking, Wait a minute, do I want to get in that car that's being driven by a robot, artificial intelligence, and allow it to drive me from A to Z? See, so there, there is that transfer going on right now. And I see them like, What's wrong with it? And I'm like, Well, there's a lot. I'm, I'm an ex mechanic, you know, I, I understand mechanical. So yeah, it's interesting to watch this and exciting

[00:41:47] Rick Chromey: Hey,

[00:41:47] Ed Watters: at the same time.

[00:41:48] Rick Chromey: think about airplanes. You know,

[00:41:52] Ed Watters: Airplanes. That's right.

[00:41:53] Rick Chromey: When, when airplanes move and, you know, I, when I was researching the airplanes out, I thought, you know, uh, this is, you know, as far as making mass transportation like it is today, you know, where you catch a flight, we don't think anything about catching a flight. When's the last time you heard of a domestic flight going down and crashing?

[00:42:13] You know, I can't even think of the last time I heard of a domestic flight, you'd have some domestic flights that have problems out there and they land or they got to deal with or something like that. But I was talking about one crashing where dozens, hundreds of people are killed. I mean, I remember that being fairly common in the 1970s. Even in the 1970s,

[00:42:32] Ed Watters: 70s, yeah.

[00:42:33] Rick Chromey: 70s and 80s,

[00:42:33] Ed Watters: 80s, early 80s.

[00:42:34] Rick Chromey: there were still those stories. Yeah, but that's because in 1969, that's when mass transportation by airplane became for the common man. They, they deregulated the airplane industry, allowed basically all these airlines to, to emerge. And there was just so much volume out there. And because it was deregulated, they were kind of flying by the seat of their pants, if you pardon the pun on this whole thing. But before that, before 1969, the airplane industry was really only for the rich. You know, it would

[00:43:07] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:43:07] Rick Chromey: cost you 50, 000 dollars to fly from, from America over to Asia. I mean, because you flew from island to island to island in order to get more gas. I mean, it was, it was really kind of strange when you look

[00:43:20] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:43:20] Rick Chromey: at some of those old, especially 1930s, 1940s, 1950s routes that they had, it wasn't until the 1970s that it became a common man experience, right? Well. Hey, there you go. I mean, here, you're looking at these autonomy cars, these autonomous cars, and essentially they're nothing more than what you just said, a robot, an artificially intelligent robot. But here's the blessing,

[00:43:43] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:43:44] Rick Chromey: here's the blessing. Artificial intelligence is a learning machine. These robot cars, yes, there's been some crashes with them. Yes, there's been some

[00:43:54] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:43:54] Rick Chromey: concerns with them. It's early in the technology. But as they learn, and I guarantee you they will learn, as they learn these roads and they improve their, their, their, uh, performance, what's going to go down are crashes. And it's going to come to the point where

[00:44:11] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:44:12] Rick Chromey: it's going to be 99 to 100 percent safe to jump into a car, probably even 99. 9 percent safe. They'll give a little room for error. But here's, here's what's going to be interesting. Once we get to that point, you won't need to have automobile insurance anymore. You won't need to have insurance on yourself as far as death insurance in a car. You know, the, the whole idea of auto insurance would totally go away because there won't be any crashes. Think of all the lives, what is it? 50, 000 people die or 60, 000

[00:44:43] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:44:43] Rick Chromey: people die every

[00:44:44] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:44:44] Rick Chromey: year just from automobile accidents. Think about those

[00:44:47] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:44:47] Rick Chromey: 50, 000 people not dying anymore. What's that going to do to change populations, you know? There's going to be people there,

[00:44:54] Ed Watters: That's a good point.

[00:44:55] Rick Chromey: It's just going to, everything's going to shift these ways. So these, these technologies have a way of improving us, but they also create new problems. And, you know, that's, the cultural historian in me likes to look back and say, Well, how do we handle old problems? You know, the industrial revolution was full of, was full of problems. When we moved to the idea of a mechanized machine that put together a car, uh, put together refrigerators or anything else that you're wanting to put together, we had the industrial revolution. And the whole idea of a, of a belt moving things along like Ford, uh, developed and, and, to a, to a T. To a T literally. He created the model T on

[00:45:33] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:45:33] Rick Chromey: that thing. Uh,

[00:45:34] Ed Watters: That's right.

[00:45:35] Rick Chromey: Yeah. So, I mean, the industrial revolution was full of questions. But what did it, what did it bring? It brought a middle class. Before, before the industrial revolution, there was no middle class. It, it literally brought up people up into a new economic status that was stable. You were either poor or you were rich before the industrial revolution, not anymore. You know, we do have a middle

[00:46:00] Ed Watters: Yeah.

[00:46:00] Rick Chromey: class.

[00:46:00] Ed Watters: The world's exciting. It always has been, it always will be. And it's always growing through our technology, that's for sure.

[00:46:09] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:46:10] Ed Watters: Rick, could you, uh, tell people how to get ahold of your book and do you have a call to action for people?

[00:46:17] Rick Chromey: Well, first of all, I'll do, I'll do you all a favor. Uh, Ed, if you want to put this on your website, I'll be more than happy to send you a link that your, your audience can download my book for free, a digital copy for free. How's that sound?

[00:46:32] Ed Watters: Awesome.

[00:46:33] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:46:33] Ed Watters: That's awesome.

[00:46:34] Rick Chromey: So you can download, if you go to Ed's website there, uh, where this, uh, it's being recorded and you'll see a link there, I'll send it to him and, and you can download your own copy. I would encourage you to do two things for me though. If you love the book, do two things, maybe buy a print copy as a, as a personal copy or as a gift for somebody.

[00:46:53] Uh, and secondly, uh, just, um, give us some love out there on Amazon, or, or Barnes and Noble, some of these book places that sell, we've got to get this book out. It's, it's kind of had, um, it was born in the COVID moment. So it's kind of gotten lost and I am trying to revive it a bit. I think it's probably my best book. Uh, although I'm right now working on another book that I hope will be my, I always think my next book is always my best book, but

[00:47:17] Ed Watters: It is.

[00:47:17] Rick Chromey: this is a really, this is a really good book and I'd love to get it into your hands and I'll do it, I'll do this for you and, and make it work for you. But if you, if you buy it and promote it, that's even better for me and I appreciate that. And you can,

[00:47:32] Ed Watters: Well, I sure will.

[00:47:34] Rick Chromey: you can learn more about me, by the way, That's the place you'll

[00:47:38] Ed Watters: All right.

[00:47:38] Rick Chromey: find me.

[00:47:40] Ed Watters: Rick, it's, it's exciting. You know, you're, you're fascinating, you're doing good things. And I'm going to reach out and have you back on the podcast, I hope. You know, it's, I've got some other things I want to speak and discuss with you. But I'm definitely going to get this book because it's, it's explained so much to me already that I've wondered about so long.

[00:48:08] Rick Chromey: Yeah.

[00:48:08] Ed Watters: I love what you're doing, Rick, keep doing it. Thank you for

[00:48:11] Rick Chromey: Thanks.

[00:48:11] Ed Watters: being part of our show today, Dead America podcast.

[00:48:14] Rick Chromey: Thank you, Ed, thank you. And by the way, for those who are interested in an autographed copy, if you go to and order directly through me, and this is only for U. S. audiences only. I can't, I can't mail them internationally, so keep that in mind. If you're international, sorry. You'll get the free digital. But if you want an autograph copy, great Christmas gift, by the way, um, just go to and I will autograph that copy and get it in the mail to you this week. So it's, it's there for you.

[00:48:43] Ed Watters: All right, Rick, you, you enjoy your afternoon, sir.

[00:48:48] Rick Chromey: Thank you, Ed. It's been a pleasure.

[00:48:54] Ed Watters: Thank you for joining us today. If you found this podcast enlightening, entertaining, educational in any way, please share, like, subscribe, and join us right back here next week for another great episode of Dead America Podcast. I'm Ed Watters, your host, enjoy your afternoon wherever you may be.